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Oct 14

Trimmer and Slimmer: Broadway Sit-Downs

For Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, you truly can’t stop the beat. If you’re not cruise-savvy, Royal Caribbean (affectionately phrased as RCCL) is a luxury cruise line notorious for providing cruises that include activities and entertainment that pleases all ages. Their latest hand at theatre? Mounting a production of Hairspray, one of Broadway’s most successful movie-musicals of all time onto the biggest cruise ship in America, the Oasis of the Seas. Condensed to only ninety-minutes, the trimmed production omits “(The Legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs”, “Cooties” and “The Big Dollhouse”. The show runs several times a cruise and was a hit among audiences. RCCL set out to produce a Broadway musical on their ship purely due to the power and overall appeal that Broadway sends, specifically Hairspray. The show came to attention when The Tony Awards announced they would broadcast a performance from the production. While some Broadway “megafans” might criticize the shorter (and, to some, less satisfying version of ‘Spray), it inspired a trend — the company’s sister ship, the Allure of Seas, which opened with another huge Broadway smash – CHICAGO. Hairspray enjoyed several years on the Oasis, consistently bringing Hairspray veterans from the National Tours and past productions to replace performers in the show. The ships will usher in new productions in the next year, most notably “Cats”. Norwegian Cruise Line has followed suit, debuting their production of Legally Blonde the Musical last May to success (albeit less publicity than RCCL’s Hairspray).

While RCCL was certainly smart to add Broadway to their continually growing list of impressive offerings on it’s ships, they weren’t the first vacation hotspot to add a Broadway musical to their strip of guest offerings. In recent years, Las Vegas has become a haven for Broadway musicals to set up camp. Think of it as a “mini-Broadway!” Successful shows bring a duplicate production to Vegas, sometimes condensing the show to appeal to the fast-paced nature of Vegas patrons and create a performance schedule.  No closing date is set (in normal cases), because the intention is to run the show for as long as audiences want to see it. Right now, Jersey Boys is enjoying a successful run in Vegas. Audiences love the music and romance of the production, which remains as-is from the Broadway production. But not all Vegas runs have happy endings – take Avenue Q, the “little show that could” that won the Tony for Best Musical over blockbuster WICKED. Avenue Q’s stay in Vegas was clipped after just 9 months – which seems pretty good, in comparison to Hairspray’s four month run. “Q” debuted with an updated ninety-minute book. Avenue Q, WICKED, Jersey Boys… three Broadway smashes that took their productions to Vegas to build a nest to house new audiences, but all three productions would be jealous of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom, which enjoyed a six year run in Vegas in a custom-built theatre in a simplified ninety-five minute form.

Other shows have ventured to other tourist locations, too — WICKED had a lengthy stay in Chicago and Billy Elliot had a quick run (much to the producer’s wallets, the production did not find an audience and closed shortly after opening, to a presumed loss, although the same production went on the travel america as a National Tour). But whether or not the productions found success, it’s important to commend the Producers for one thing we should all be thankful for – bringing the magic of Broadway to the rest of the world.

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